Saturday, January 30, 2010
500 years ago the most dominant force on the planet was religion. Wars were raged and lives tortured over whose version of God was correct. (Of course, this still goes on today, just in a different form, in case you're tempted to feel morally superior). Kings were obliged to the Pope and killing infidels was not only common but considered necessary to our survival. The logic being, of course, that without God's approval one has no future - so destroy all those who disagree as to whether God approves of you! And that is how Father Domingo came to be in a Japanese prison in the year 1600 AD.
The Portuguese came to Japan in 1549 along with their Catholic fever. But even within their own religion were factions: the Jesuits and the Franciscans. Father Domingo was a Franciscan monk which was unfortunate since the Jesuits had the upper hand in Japan, didn't like his teachings and had him dispatched forthwith into prison. Inside this living hell, he made converts of what prisoners he could, preparing them for the unusually cruel version of Japanese crucifixion.
Each morning came the man with the List. If your name was called, time to die - slowly over days. The Father would bless the poor bastards and send them out. This he had done for two years when one day a sailor was brought in who had wrecked upon the Japanese shores. His name was Blackthorne, the ship's pilot, who'd just came from a visit with the powerful Lord Toranaga. But the Catholic priests hated this heretic Protestant pilot who washed up on their private little domain of Christianity, reviling Blackthorne for revealing to Toranaga more than one version of Christianity existed.
So Lord Toranaga jailed him in apparent appeasement - all the while knowing the monk was imprisoned there already. Father Domingo gave the Pilot an education on Japan and the inner workings of the Portuguese trading. He also taught him conversational Japanese to help him get by. What Blackthorne learned in that prison would have remained hidden from him forever had the Jesuit priests had their way. But learn he did - until the day came his name was called out by the man with the List.
With grave fear Blackthorne approached the exit of the foul den of sick and dying bodies, following the List Man - to his happy surprise - all the way to the prison gate. He was being released! An escort waited for him to take him back to the castle where Lord Toranaga awaited. Blackthorne was bathed and set in luxury. Toranaga explained he needed Blackthorne in prison as a ruse to keep him safe from his rivals. The Lord then whisked away the ship's pilot to safe territory.
Father Domingo - though he had done right in his heart - had betrayed Jesuit secrets to Blackthorne, aiding an enemy to his oppressors. So what must have he thought when a few days after the Pilot's departure his name was called on the morning list. After hundreds of days of dodging the bullet and preparing others for an unspeakable fate, Father Domingo was unable to prepare himself. His old and tired body would wilt painfully when stapled to the cross in the searing sun. And the thought of that fatally seized his heart, collapsing him to the ground dead.
Father Domingo was not a happy camper as he confronted his Maker. "You bastard motherfucker! It's HELL down there. You leave me to live at the mercy of animals with no way out? YOU try living down there sometime! Jesus fucking Christ, it's a madhouse! I believe in love, I really do! But for what? To be gutted like a pig? You say I deserve that, so be it. But I can only stand so much! Damn, you're one hard son-of-a-bitch!"
God then revealed to Domingo the truth, showing him Blackthorne pleading to Lord Toranaga for the father's release and return to stature. Toranaga was more than happy to oblige and thus sent the order for the padre to be set free. For while death seemed to surround the monk whichever way he turned, his inner fidelity to life had actually saved him.
Friday, January 29, 2010
"Damn, that table's annoying!"
Pulling himself off the brown pillowed couch of his shadowed condo, Therapy Man attacked the landfill heaped upon his glass-topped dinette set. A week's worth of mail - some half opened, some ignored - clustered around the middle with a 3 day old newspaper unfolded in the middle. Crumbs dotted the table's landscape like shrapnel from a bomb. Lint tinged drops of syrup lingered near the edge of the placemat. Therapy Man could stand this festering wound no more.
With a few final wipes of the paper towel, the wound was healed and Therapy Man was on a roll. He steamrolled through all that dare offend his dwelling. Pity the out-of-place pen or unfiled paper, he dispatched them with ruthless efficiency, bringing order out of the chaos and harmony to his world. Back in the living room, he brought to light a soy candle, filling the room with a soothing aroma. "Now I can rest," mused Therapy Man, and lay back down to a hopeful compensation on the comfy couch.
Yet even with this grand accomplishment, his heart still pounded. Without warning, earlier in the middle of the bright, cold afternoon, he’d lost the sun and the day went black. Dark Terror shrieked in his stomach, begging for release, pleading for the light. Crippled and bent, he limped to his divan, pulling the ever present blanket over his head, hiding from death one more time. All the rope in the world knotted end to end couldn't reach bottom of Therapy Man's hole. He shivered, stuck in a vast, echo-less emptiness.
But he'd mastered his universe now and rewarded himself with the distraction of a hockey game. His sprits lifted when his favorite player scored a goal. Just think, if he hadn't pulled himself together, he'd of missed that in his despair! Therapy Man cursed as the game was tied in the dying seconds but then rejoiced in the ensuing shoot-out victory. All in all, a most delightful diversion. Riding the wave, he picked the phone and called a long distance connection he leaned upon on occasion. He played his happy role well, laughing at the appropriate times, engaging himself in the conversation.
As he hung up the phone, the heat kicked on - the universe was conspiring to comfort him! He'd just needed to let it in the door, fend off demons of defeat and accept the good things he deserved. The river of hope would lead Therapy Man home. He knew all the tips and tricks by now. For tomorrow he resolved to check out the new nature park he’d read about with peaceful views of the lake it encircled. Rewarding himself for his good and socially acceptable behavior, he even piddled around on the internet, heaving heavily on images of Women Unobtainable, arousing his desires.
Standing up satisfied from his office chair at the end of the evening, at that point he knew he’d done all he could do. But instead of a victory march to a hard–earned night’s sleep, Therapy Man stood motionless, inanimate in the darkened room, a statue with no signs of provable life. Then he smiled a wry smile. "Well, that’s that," he confirmed.
Entering his barren bedroom, Therapy Man methodically pulled out the bottom drawer of his dresser and faced his final fate with the revolving of a single chamber.
Life, there is no substitute.
Monday, January 25, 2010
"I'll write something lighter next time." - Dr. Spudman44
The good doctor issued this near apology recently for his Friday Fiction piece on a potential Iraqi suicide bomber - some would say a not very entertaining subject! But this one small incident speaks to a larger issue of our times - times like ancient Rome as the empire declined yet all eyes focused on the Coliseum for escape. Now Roman politics may be fun to read about but I'm sure it was not much fun to experience what with all the daggers and poisons and whatnot. So we avert our eyes because deep in our hearts we know what fate has in store for us when we condone such wickedness.
America of today is guilty of committing the greatest act of evil in the 21st century. Because of that we are engaged in endless war and silently preparing ourselves for a last ditch scramble of our resources as we refuse to release the yoke of greed and remove it as a basis for life. News of this is about as welcome as reading about the successful Barbarian invasions was for the Romans. Who wants to think about that shit?? Shut up and keep the party going!
Obviously, if one were to peruse my previous postings you will find frivolity and fun for fun's sake. That's because fun is as important as anything for survival. Fun while your ship's hull is breached though is quite another matter! It's a matter of priorities. I don't blame the media for this. I'm sure the Roman papers were all about who was sleeping with who in the Senate, political intrigues and who the baddest gladiator was of the time. In other words, giving the people what they want. A paper can only lead a horse to water, it can't make him think.
"I was perfect in our relationship. I did everything he wanted!"
This was uttered in my group therapy session by a woman who was beaten for seven years. She abrogated her responsibilities to herself and turned her life over to another person. And for that she paid with ruptured eardrums (among other things) from the beatings she endured. So giving people what they want is not only an act of irresponsibility but makes you a participant in the destruction - your own destruction (everybody counts). It's easy to give in an serve what you know people will like and that is fine just as long as you don't do it at your own expense.
Many professional entertainers end up defining their self-worth by their ability to entertain. The more consumed they became with that thought the greater their need to escape that "reality" - sometimes by death. But I say we as whole are on that path, applying pressure for sharing only entertainment and never our larger truths. (The best do both). Children are the ones most receptive to our messages and I've noticed a common trait when I read about child suicides: "Oh, he was such a good kid. He just wanted to make everyone happy." Obviously, no one asked the kid if he was happy. Fuckers.
You wouldn't know it from my blog - and it's not my intent that you should - but I like life, I believe in it more than anything else in the world. I can make any subject entertaining because everything we do is all part of the human comedy and I know the road from which that divines. And knowing that is good news - the greatest possible news imaginable! But I don't share that to a world who wants only half the message.
So screw all the so-called "optimists" who stay aboard the Titanic spouting garbage like, "Everything is fine if we just believe it! We can lick this thing! I have faith in the human spirit! We need only support our Captain!" True human spirit seeks survival in the lifeboats, admitting a mistake and going on. Yes, there's no Lido deck on a lifeboat, not a lot of happy faces or parties or entertainment either. But there is life - and that beats the fuck out of being entertained while sinking.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
I went to visit the great Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth today. The Kimbell is one of the finest small museums in the world. "The Cardsharps" by Caravaggio (on whom one day I'll do a posting) is my favorite piece and a crown jewel in their collection. Being a small museum (though very well funded) they emphasize quality over quantity. There are many great museums in the DFW area, but the Kimbell is easily my favorite and every visit is a delight.
The current exhibit is Private Collections of Texas. I highly recommend it, the Mondrians at the end being a special treat for me. I never knew Texas was such a hotbed for Mondrian! The Van Goghs were greatness and the entire show was rich with depth I did not expect. Seems some of my hick neighbors have some taste after all. Like we like to say in Texas: "They done good!"
But times are very, very hard for me right now and afterwards I leaned against a stone pillar by the outdoor pools and watched the sun dance on the water's surface. It was hypnotic, it was a haiku. I lost myself in the moment like a condemned man not wanting face his fate. I had not the words to capture that moment, my soul is exhausted. So I ran to get my camera to give you a glimpse into my glimpse.
This where I stood, gazing at the reflection
and never wishing to leave.
First of a few shots of the water falling around the edges.
There are two identical pools of water
on either side of the entrance.
The walkaways under the arches are magnificent.
The building itself is art.
Aligned trees separate the pools.
South of the building is a sunken courtyard, a place of serenity and isolation. Though not one for religious rituals myself, I truly loved the sight of this fellow presumably using the courtyard wall for a wailing wall (a wall of prayer). A perfectly poetic ending to my day.
To see the entire set of photos, click here.
This was on the radio as I left
Saturday, January 23, 2010
I don't know why I feel compelled to post this at this time. Maybe it's because I identify with the lead character somehow. Maybe it's because I feel her fate. Maybe it's because I feel yours.
Feminism has become a dirty word and is many times misappropriated to define women "heroically" acting like men. Which, of course, still "proves" the male outlook on life in the end. Both male and female alike worship the male mentality of how the world should be. We are brainwashed from birth. But rarely is that mentality dissected with a passionate eye for the truth of who we are. In "Raise the Red Lantern" Yimou Zhang examines the myth of male superiority with shattering consequences.
The time setting for this is brilliant, set in China right on the cusp between the transition from ancient to modern. In 1920, many of the old barbaric attitudes towards male/female relationships were still alive in Asia even as fresh winds were blowing in liberation for the men. Eventually those winds would blow away the more egregious male mores but in this twilight time a male could have the best of both worlds.
The film is mostly shot within an estate of a rich and powerful lord. In it he houses his many wives, the newest of which is our main character played by the legendary Gong Li. She is the fourth wife, forced to marry at 19 before her life can even begin. We feel the loss of her talent from the world, reduced to a rich man's toy. The story revolves around the interaction of the women in an unquestioned male world - unquestioned even by them.
Director Zhang is brilliant in that he never shows a focused shot of the male lord, lest we think him a single person as opposed to a mentality. He is typically selfish, a product of the times and environment. He does all that is allowed by social customs and no more. But it's what is allowed that is so shocking, the insanity of the "normal".
In the end, it's the human impulse to live that upsets the apple cart, leading to horror in its repression. Mankind learns from its mistakes on one hand - we no longer burn witches at the stake - yet grabs new ones on the other. The brutality of the lord shown in this film is no longer tolerated in modern China, yet we still live in a world that fails to honor the feminine and the gentle. We tend to honor the hard and the unfeeling, repressing our own human impulses to live.
Like anything real, true feminism is about honoring life itself.
In a house clean as a laboratory, displayed as well as a fine museum and manicured down to the last detail we find a family gathering for their nightly meal. The food is gladly prepared and mannered well upon their plates. It is the scene of the All-American family awash in guiltless pleasure and soulful success, living the life God intended.
The responsible father and nurturing mother speak fondly to their children as the hearty American bounty is passed around the table.
"Wally, can't you pull that needle out of your arm before you come to the table? You'll spoil everyone's appetite."
"Yes, dear, you don't want to ruin dinner for us, do you? The hell you put us through!"
"Geez, Mom and Dad, with parents like you it's hard not to stay strung out all the time."
"Yes, son, but we hope you'd have the good decency not to show your addiction at the table where your mother has fixed us a very excellent meal. We'd appreciate you burying your problems for just a little bit at our designated family time. I don't think that's too much to ask, do you?"
"Ok, ok! But what about the Beav?? I saw him whacking off before he came down to dinner and he didn't even wash his hand!"
"Beaver Cleaver! Don't you ever touch that again! I know why you're doing it you perverted little boy and if I ever hear of it again you can just find another house to live in!"
"I'm sorry, Mom! It was the first time ever, I swear! I won't do it again ever! I'm very bad!"
"Beaver, I hope you'll listen to your mother on this you little bastard shit or I will belt the sex right out of you if I have to."
"Gosh, Dad, don't be so hard on the Beav. Mary Jane Pitman wore her slut pants to school Monday and he's been whacking off all week."
"Shut up, Wally! I only want to be her nice, well-behaved friend is all!"
"Sure, Beav, you just want to friend her with your pants down."
"Settle down, boys! We'll have no more talk like this. I'm sure Beaver will behave himself and avoid the beatings I so dearly want to take out on him. And you, Wally, what about our talk about finding an unjust war for you to fight in?"
"I dunno, Dad. I think I'd have a better chance of keeping my soul as a heroin addict."
"War would make a man of you! Straighten you out! Do my job for me."
"And Wally, I think you would look simply smashing in a uniform! Just think what my friends would say. And suppose you got hurt and won a medal!"
"I don't know, Mom... What do they say now when you tell them how Dad can't get it up and has to hide girly magazines under the mattress? That 'Girls of the Big 12' issue gave me a hard-on for a month!"
"It's talk like that why you should be in the Army so you can learn some respect for bullshit! Don't hear our fine fighting boys talking like that. No, sir! They have discipline and lie responsibly. You'll never make anything of yourself without self-respect."
"Is Dad through with that girly magazine?"
"Shut up, Beaver. I'm going to get you for touching yourself. And I'm going to have to tell our priest on Sunday what a nasty, filthy little boy I have!"
"But Mom, I saw him stick his finger down Mary Jane Pitman's ass crack she shows when she wears her slut pants."
"I'll have no more honest reporting like that out of you, Beaver. No one likes a narc, kids. The truth is what we say it is and nothing more. If I tell you black is white and white is black, you're to believe me!"
"Gee, Dad, only a real bastard would say something like that. I thought we killed Hitler to get rid of people like that."
"Wally, you apologize to your father right now! You know he's not Hitler. He hasn't killed anywhere near six million Jews."
"I dunno, Mom. He sure talks like a monster. What am I supposed to think?"
"Your father knows what's best for you. You're to blindly obey him, never question his decisions and stick by him no matter how godawful or worthless you may feel. Even if he slaps you with a steak because you overcooked it, you must defer to him for the good of the family and for God."
"Aw, Mom, just because you want to be his bitch doesn't mean the rest of us do. We all hear you barking in the middle of the night. Is that why you put a lock on your door?"
"Wally, I told you during our big talk those were natural sleeping noises. You just won't listen, will you? Now do you see why you're to believe everything I say unconditionally?"
"Sure do now, Dad."
"Me too, Dad!"
"Oh, I'm so proud of the both of you. See what happens when you just try a little? Don't listen to those corrupt teachers who tell you trust and openness are the way to raise a family. We're doing just fine, aren't we, Ward?"
"Yes, June, I think you can say we're raising two fine boys here that reflect well on both of us and no one can question neither our morality nor our lies. I hereby declare us perfect!" The proud father beamed at both his children in bribing admiration. "Well boys, what do you think of that?"
"We talked it over, Dad, and both the Beav and I think you're a complete asshole and Mom's an emotional cripple too afraid to stand on her own two feet and you guys got this really sick relationship you want to hide from the world and you resent us for seeing through it and knowing the truth."
The good father paused. "I'm going to tell you something, Wally. I'm going to tell you this one time and you better get this through your thick head: when you get to be my age, you're going to be just as big an asshole as I am and you know what your going to do then? You're going to say what a great father I was, and how I was really a lot smarter than you gave me credit for and thank me for the way I raised you."
"Wanna bet, motherfucker?"
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Dear God, what a word! Sharper than any bayonet, more piercing than any musket ball, my heart limps in wounded woe. Retreat! Maybe if I repeat it long enough it will discharge its devil's mocking laughter. Has the light of Glory led me astray? In Bonaparte I trust. Never let the genius of Austerlitz be forgotten! What a feeling to know the stars have aligned before every battle, that no matter what the enemy's tactics yours shall prevail! This cup I cannot resist. And now to find such bitter poison within...
Defeated by shadows and apparitions, always squinting into the distance. My anger begets a circle of blame slicing my soldier's soul. On whom shall I direct my misery? Give me an enemy I can fight! Dare I to hope the Emperor grasps a truth I do not? Does my mind see truly our station and position? Is our move a sly way to draw out our charlatan opponents at last! So foul is my stomach's pit I fear the bread sitting before me. How will it ever pass through?
Life has changed. Hobgoblins spread confusion on a path once so clear. Are we burning the city to make fire our god? Hesitant are the officers' eyes. When did I ever see that before? Infinite dreams we had, ever upwards without fail. Why descend now and not before if by a lie we live? More than the fickleness of fate is this. I obey the order and turn my face westward, but every step eats at me as doubt dogs me like hounds from hell.
It is happening. We are dying. Hope barely flickers, I trudge forward with no certainty of purpose. "Victory belongs to us!" we always claimed, entitled by divine right. Perhaps victory will regain its meaning someday but I shall never cheer it as before. With guilty observance I peruse our struggle for simple survival. No happiness, no mention of satisfaction of any sort, just one foot in front of the other pushed on only by the sight of those who breathe no more, human icicles to rot and spoil in the far off Springtime sun.
No one says a word but we all hear the screams of no reply. Goddam Cossacks trapping us on either side like demonic jailors, ready to slice our brittle bones in glee. The biting wind aided by the breath of countless Russian peasants who join its savage attack. Old friend Time has defected as well, allying with the enemy, waging his war for him. I never knew such a clawing agony could so infect the human condition, rendering my soul to shreds.
A crucifixion of coldness we bear. Roads so glassy horses fall, unable to right themselves, flailing and dying in inescapable terror. My hand is frozen to my musket barrel in unrepentant grip. Am I to return the same person? Strangely, home has changed for me too. It's as if I've misplaced it and may spend the rest of my life searching, its place always slipping away from me, no longer welcoming my warring ways. What will I see in her greeting eyes when I finally present my spiritless self?
I've ceased to touch the earth. What does it say of me when I see beauty in the vast Russian sky and my heart embraces this ancient landscape so clearly gifted by God? I yearn to join the peasants in the joy of harvesting crops with labored love. I surrender to the nature of land. I begrudge not the exquisite blue ice as it cracks and justly swallows unwilling bodies. Like wolf packs are the roadside fires, the strong tearing away the weak. Were that God were to rest me on a cloud and prove not all the universe a frozen nightmare.
To whom may I witness? Woman is only gentle as long as man is brutal. War is the wage of winning. Children sing in innocence never discerning our words of woe - yet destined for our mistakes. Do we not brand a fool any who speak of love? Oh to have a world full of fools such as that! Ahead on the road is a pile of gold and silver trophies, dumped in irrelevant splendor. To life I am chained, pulling me from my pride, toasting my truth. And yet tearing me in two.
How do I find myself in such dire circumstance? What a sight I must make to my Maker, hobbling along with over-wrapped feet in a blizzard where no sane man resides. Surely, this was not the intent of my life - or any life ever bore. I've done what's expected: I thought nothing of myself, I valued me not. I accepted victory's bribe - and seduction - and made my pact. Hungering in my quest, I devoured my life in false anger, determined to strip all consequence from my living. I duly wish I'd had a say now.
How deep my madness? Did I go too far? Do I have minutes more, or years? I can’t even remember why I’m fighting. A falling star I follow. To struggle a lifetime only to be entombed in freezing torment. Like Judas after the betrayal I feel cut off from all life in this world. My gun is my enemy I realize too late. I must give it up to live yet my will obeys me not. How curious to die with laughter a stranger. Do I have the heartbeats left to thaw my heart? I yearn for a hand a soldier cannot win.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Many years ago there lived an Emperor who was so exceedingly fond of fine new clothes that he spent vast sums of money on dress. To him clothes meant more than
In the great city where he lived life was gay and strangers were always coming
Now one fine day two swindlers, calling themselves
"What a splendid idea," thought the Emperor. "What useful clothes to have. If I had such a suit of clothes I could know at once which of my people is
Later, the faithful old minister
Soon after this the Emperor sent another
"Is not the material beautiful?" said the
To the Emperor he said when he returned, "The cloth the weavers are preparing is truly magnificent
"Magnificent." "Excellent." "Exquisite."
And so the
None of the Emperor's clothes had ever met with such
But among the crowds a little child suddenly gasped out, "But he hasn't got anything on." And the people began to whisper to one another what the child had said. "He hasn't got anything on
Then the boy's parents
But the truth welled up in the boy, his a soul a boiling pot needing an ever increasing boulder to keep the lid on. The squirming agony made the boy intolerable and he was taken to a
Never trust anyone over five. (I'm only half joking)
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
I've always found the idea of an art school amusing. To me, it's sort of like having a school on how to be a Japanese warlord. It just happens, it can't be taught. Sure, you could break it down with classes like How To Manage Samurai, Battle Tactics Testing and Armory 101, but if you can't teach yourself those things, you ain't gonna win anyway. You'll never be "it", just a facsimile - and posers get smoked out in a world with no rules.
So how do you know when a story is done? Or a song is finished? I remember Paul McCartney calling in a last minute change to the trumpets on "Penny Lane" to get the exact sound he wanted. Altman's initial cut of MASH was lacking an element, exactly what he did not know. Eventually he came upon the idea of a camp loudspeaker to tie it all together. Yes, all that was put in last. And the number of stories of artists fighting for their visions is legion. Later, when the work is confirmed as greatness, we say, "Thank God they didn't screw that up! How could it be anything else?"
I wonder how many great works did get screwed up, or not fully realized or not even tried for a lack of faith? It would take the perspective of God to know such things. No other person can share your vision. If you're lucky, you might be able to express it to someone who understands, who "gets it" and if you trust the person you can get some validation from that. But the final execution rests solely on you, the artist.
Every time I post I get to find out how honest I am with myself. Did I say everything I wanted to? Did I put in bullshit when I got scared of what I truly wanted to say? Was I lazy or did I hit the mark? There's always a temptation to do "crap you know will be praised" but the applause is hollow. First, as always, the muse must applaud. A good post is like a dream come true.
I say these things because I'm tired and worn out. We artists are not engineers or accountants to whom only finite numbers need be appeased. There's no road map to success that can be calculated and drawn out. So who do I turn to when the decisions are always mine alone? Who can carry my burden when the weight becomes too heavy? Who can know the dreams I wish to share?
I just gotta let it go-a-woe.
Monday, January 11, 2010
"You know what you need to do? Join the army! Do something with your life. Make something of yourself. Here you are living in your parent's house, doin' nothin, goin' nowhere and no end in sight!"
Oh the perils of a lost soul in a predatory world. Johnny was the namesake of Uncle John, the author of the crushing lecture taking all the air out of the room. Slowly but surely war veteran Uncle John inserted the hot knife into Johnny's soul. Is there no American creature more despised than the leach? Johnny may as well have had it written on his forehead. And you can do anything to a leach - it has no defenders.
Johnny's parents never said a word, leaving him to twist in his own guilty wind. The cat, he envied. Unquestioned in its love and care, she was the champion of the house. She knew nothing of wars in far off lands or "economic downturns" or restless youths. Johnny wondered if it came down to him or the cat, who would win. He looked up from the couch to hear his uncle still glowering, chastising him for not having the money to save his soul.
In the silence left of absent praise for Johnny, high Hosannas were raised to Gifted Children Of Others and Dutiful Sons And Daughters. But the Miller's son was still searching, waiting for that bright light to snap on and show him the path to victory. His unraped innocence burned holes in the souls of his family. Never openly daring in their crucifying crusade, always circumspect, leading the horse to poisoned water, not pushing him over the cliff but showing him to the edge.
The cross came calling and Johnny was absent without savior. No girl called him home.
He noticed his uncle stopped his imperial conquest, fortified for attack. Obligingly, Johnny recited words he felt already scripted for him.
"But I don't really know about war. I mean, lots people say they are not doing any good anyway."
"Not good?" boomed the embattled man. "Of course they're good! This country wouldn't exist without war! We'd be speaking goddam German right now if it wasn't for war! Who put them notions in your head, boy?"
Uncle John had the look of a golfer whose thundering tee shot landed both far and fair. His nephew set up the ball perfectly and with great satisfaction he beamed at the boy in approval. Enlistment was imminent, all that was left were futile words of protest swept aside by righteous rejection. Two days later, Johnny sold his soul and he was the toast of the house.
"Dear God, what have I done? This has to be the worst decision of my life."
A chilling fear hit him that first night on the cold, barrack bunk. He must have been mad to barter his life so cheaply! Swindlers all, his family and foes. Johnny never knew he could feel so alone in the universe. Involuntarily, his body began shaking, shivering unknown in the dark. Only God could see his face of terror, realizing he'd put himself at the mercy of the merciless. Use him up they would, traded like a trinket to buy the end they wanted. No more would another being concern itself with the concerns of Johnny.
Like most of the enlistees, Johnny took solace in the mutual mortification of his bunkmates. Johnny was in hell, but they'd be in hell together. It was a shitty deal, but the only one he had. He'd heard of deserters but he'd nowhere near the bravery for that. Going to jail for what you believe? Who has that kind of gall? Johnny didn't dare claim his soul held such importance. He wondered where he'd be right now back home - watching late night TV, no doubt, hoping for a good line up of guests.
During the day he seemed like any other soldier. Definitely not a go-getter, those who were like a fish who'd found water. Johnny was below average but passable. He strained to achieve even that. The nighttime shakes were nightly visitors, revisiting all the little hells stored up during daylight sun. On the outside, he kept up, on the inside, he fell behind. No one seemed to give a shit about anything but what he did on the training ground.
Before deployment, he sent bleeding letters home weaving a tale all was well and how delightful he found it the army decided they found him useful enough for their war.
Camp made basic training seem like home cooking. Sure, there was more freedom but also more facelessness. Private Johnny was a piece of meat to be stored and dutifully prepared to be served as ordered. God knows that's about how much thought was put into his quarters. But the tipping point was in the patrolling, a daily grind of raking one's living hopes over the blazing coals of Hades, a slow motion daymare requiring a sort of controlled mania that bent the mind in squelched screams. No nets were supplied for this high wire act - an act of economic efficiency. One could say "God help you if you fall," only God did not.
Johnny's melting mind was deemed his own provenance. Real men loved war. Nobody wants to hear your bitching. Suck it up! War is the way of the world! As a fighting soldier he stood on the cutting edge of reality, once more leaning over the edge of the cliff. Johnny was determined to love it too. In his nightly shivers, he stroked himself, getting off on the danger of death, of his daily dying. Every day he passed death's exam, the greater the ecstasy of his humping hand. He even soiled the letter from his sister who agonized over his well being, powerless to help.
Finally, fate stabbed its way in on the Ides of March with an I.E.D. exploding, missing Johnny but killing one other and wounding the other two of his patrol. It made the papers at home, turning Private Johnny into a certified war hero, a title of inescapable doom for his deserter's heart. His world turned a seething black, sucking his soul into a sunless universe for all time. Even during the day now, the shakes shivered him into shattered shards, his hand rubbing his crotch, trying to contain his leaking spirit. Disaster came unrealized one day in the mess hall, Private Johnny eating chow with one hand, his johnson out with the other. He didn't realize he could be seen anymore, he just knew he had to get through the day.
Section 8. From war hero to war lunatic. No going home now. The details would inevitably leak out. Secret smirks hidden as the Hand Man walked into a room. "Hey Johnny, did you get your shot off in the war?" Yes, everyone was finished with him now. Time to take out the trash. Private Miller's final shot of the war was through his head. Stinging tears rolling down his face, he didn't want to die.
Only on the wings of tenderness rests the salvation of man.
They are the casualties of wars you don’t often hear about - soldiers who die of self-inflicted wounds. Little is known about the true scope of suicides among those who have served in the military.
But a five-month CBS News investigation discovered data that shows a startling rate of suicide, what some call a hidden epidemic, Chief Investigative Reporter Armen Keteyian reports exclusively.
“I just felt like this silent scream inside of me,” said Jessica Harrell, the sister of a soldier who took his own life.
"I opened up the door and there he was," recalled Mike Bowman, the father of an Army reservist.
"I saw the hose double looped around his neck,” said Kevin Lucey, another military father.
"He was gone,” said Mia Sagahon, whose soldier boyfriend committed suicide.
Keteyian spoke with the families of five former soldiers who each served in Iraq - only to die battling an enemy they could not conquer. Their loved ones are now speaking out in their names.
They survived the hell that's Iraq and then they come home only to lose their life.
Twenty-three-year-old Marine Reservist Jeff Lucey hanged himself with a garden hose in the cellar of this parents’ home - where his father, Kevin, found him.
Saturday, January 09, 2010
I had surgery a couple of months ago on a place no fiber processing mammal should have to endure. For that privilege I've been required to pay an endless series of bills, one of which for $750. I wrote out a check, painfully parting with my ill gotten gains and placed it in a box outside the nearest postal center.
Boy, what a mistake that was.
Here it is a month later and I get the bill again asking politely for me to pay, only now I've moved into the 30-60 deadbeat category. Hey assholes, you know how many aluminum cans it takes to make up $750! Competition for dumpsters around here is fierce and I ain't going through that hell twice! So I called them up and asked them what the hell they did with my money.
That was Monday. As of now they are still researching even after I had to go through the degradation of marching to a godawful Kroger to fax them proof of my innocence. (For once, it's not me!). Then I finally get a copy of my check when it cleared the bank. First I gave it that cocked head, quizzical puppy dog look - then I hit the roof! My check had been ink washed! To which I could only say: You dick!
So what is check washing? Like any good con man I keep track of all the tricks I come across and I saw this technique demonstrated with startling effectiveness years ago on TV. Here's a snippet I found on the net:
Using a process known as check washing, mail snatchers erase the ink on a check with chemicals found in common household cleaning products or on the shelves of your local Walmart and then rewrite the checks to themselves, increasing the amount payable by hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
So instead of my check going to Anal Assassins Surgery, it ends up going to one Samuel Mendoza, who - now I think about it - is probably Surly's gardener. Scarface's next move was to head to south Irving to an Ace Cash Express where the check cashing standard is to ask if you're breathing (and even that can be waived, the place to go after your weekend at Bernie's).So I called the cops and filled out a report and asked him what he thought. He told me it was probably some meth-head. WTF?? Turns out they steal mail - even from out in front of the post office - and wash the checks with the same chemicals used to produce meth. Well, isn't that precious! The cop told me they use wire and string devices to fetch out mail - and sometimes even have postal keys!
I asked him if it was ever safe to use the mail again. He told me his wife used to be a postal inspector and said I should only put mail in the box during the day, before it gets collected and brought in around 5. Nights and weekends? Ba-a-a-d! The cop also said they'll just go down a block and empty out all the boxes. Not sure what anyone can do about that.
One thing I can do: Google search the bastard! Sure enough, I found him, living just a few blocks from the place the check was cashed. Hope he knows Federal raps have no parole. And don't bend over for the soap, Sammy bitch! (or do, for all I care)
Here's a video showing how it's done:
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
"You ain't one of them environmentalists, is ya?"
In Texas nowadays, we say the word "environmentalist" like we used to say the phrase "nigger-lover". Don't want to be caught dead being one of them! Might as well say you like Yankee chili and pink underwear. Stuff like that just ain't done here. But my answer to the question above is like my answer to if I'm a nigger-lover: Damn straight I am - and you are too!
If you breathe, you're an environmentalist, ya moron. I've touched on the cement kilns of Midlothian just south of Dallas before. I spoke of how their pollution is rabidly protected by the anti-Christ elected by the local residents. Texas is a proud state, you see, and we don't like to do anything half-assed. So when we pollute, we go all the way!
But I've not come here today to bury Texas, but to portray her. Armed with my mighty camera I journeyed to the three infamous kilns I'd read so much about. Midlothian is a small city and one can see all three kilns at the same time from the right vantage point they are so close together. So I simply followed the smokestacks on the horizon and this is what I found.
TXI was the first plant I came across. It was the most colossal of the three. The complex was huge with gigantic storage facilities for the raw materials. Down the road they even had their own railroad station.
I saw this coffee house and it really struck me. It has good vibes to it with sort of an Austin funkiness to it.
This is the Holcim plant. A couple of miles from the coffee house.
Not near as big as TXI but the only one active on the day I went, New Years day.
Holcim flag flies with the American flag. Pollution is patriotic!
Midlothian is a very rural city though it has pockets of some very upscale subdivisions. Lots of long highways and grassy fields.
On to the Ash Grove plant, the smallest of the three.
See the long, rusty cylinder in the middle? If the plant were operating, it would be rotating just like a cement truck.
Headed west of the plant towards some railroad tracks.
Up to the left is an overturned car. Gotta check that out!
We can see the whole underbelly. Awesome!
A hose was left from where they syphoned off the grain.
Time to head on home.
If you want to see the entire set of pics click here.
Here's a short list of some of the additives spread over the land and livestock:
Chemicals contributing to smog called Total Hydrocarbons.
The EPA is starting to do some sabre rattling lately over pollution in the DFW area. We'll see if they actually have the guts to stand up to the corporations for once.